Hobart cruises to Big Bash win
Travis Birt drives through the covers during his unbeaten knock of 57. Photo: Getty Images
Some big names were missing but it did not stop the Brisbane Heat seeing stars after they were bludgeoned by Hobart Hurricanes pair Travis Birt and Owais Shah in the Big Bash League on Sunday night.
Hobart skipper George Bailey joked that a "dodgy burger" consumed at the Australian Open golf in Sydney last week was why ex-Test captain Ricky Ponting pulled out of their opening BBL clash with a stomach bug.
However, the Hurricanes still dined out at the Gabba as Birt (57 not out off 40 balls) and Shah (36 not out off 23) picked up where they left off from last year's tournament, to ensure Hobart an eight-wicket victory.
Their 95-run unbeaten stand off 52 balls guided Hobart to 2-175 in reply to Brisbane's 6-172, which was inspired by Dan Christian (49) and Joe Burns (44). Hurricanes medium-pacer Evan Gulbis took 3-29.
Birt - the BBL's leading run-scorer (345 runs) - and Shah scored almost half of Hobart's runs last season (627 out of 1264).
And they were at it again on Sunday night, coming together at 2-80 in the 10th over before launching their rescue mission.
Ponting's withdrawal added to a growing list of no-shows.
The Heat scratched young quick Alister McDermott (ankle) before the match.
Brisbane was already without world No.1 bowler Dale Steyn after his South African province Cape Cobras surprisingly pulled him.
And the Heat will be without New Zealand allrounder Dan Vettori (achilles) for the entire BBL campaign.
Birt and Shah emerged as the stars but didn't have it all their own way.
The Heat thought it had Birt caught behind off Sri Lankan import Thisara Perera on 40 but it was unclear whether the ball carried to diving wicketkeeper Chris Hartley.
Birt hit five fours and two sixes while Shah thrashed three fours and two sixes to ensure Hobart won with an over to spare.
Birt said the ball bounced before reaching Hartley - a point he had hoped to have proved with the state-of-the-art helmet camera he was wearing.
"I would have been quite annoyed if I turned around and they used that (helmet camera footage) to give me out," Birt laughed.
"But I got a good look at it and knew it had bounced. And Harts thought it did too."
Birt said the aggressive Shah helped him get to his damaging best against Brisbane.
"We seemed to be struggling before Owais came out. It took him banging a few over the boundary to get me into gear," said Birt.
For Brisbane, Shane Watson opened both the batting (17 off 14 balls) and bowling (0-18 off three overs) but made little impact with either.
S WATSON c Doherty b Hogan 17
L POMERSBACH c Bailey b Hogan 6
J BURNS c Bailey b Gulbis 44
D CHRISTIAN b Laughlin 49
P FORREST b Gulbis 13
B CUTTING c Birt b Gulbis 6
T PERERA not out 22
J HOPES not out 9
Sundries (5w, 1nb) 6
Total (6 wkts - 20 overs) 172
Fall of wickets: 24 (Watson), 39 (Pomersbach), 88 (Burns), 135 (Christian), 137 (Forrest), 142 (Cutting)
Bowling: D Bollinger 4-0-47-0 (1w/5), M Hogan 4-0-22-2, E Gulbis 4-0-29-3, B Laughlin 4-0-49-1, X Doherty 2-0-15-0, S Styris 2-0-10-0 (1nb)
T PAINE c Gannon b Hopes 28
J WELLS c Hopes b Cutting 38
T BIRT not out 57
O SHAH not out 36
Sundries (4b, 7lb, 4w, 1nb) 16
Total (2 wkts - 19 overs) 175
Fall of wickets: 50 (Paine), 80 (Wells)
Bowling: S Watson 3-0-17-0 (1w), C Gannon 4-0-38-0 (1w 1nb), D Christian 2-0-23-0, J Hopes 2-0-30-1 (1w), N Hauritz 3-0-17-0, B Cutting 3-0-19-1, T Perera 2-0-20-0 (1w)
Result: Hobart Hurricanes won by 8 wickets